Jano Rix (best name of the week), Sadler Vaden (maybe next-best name this week), Tinsley Ellis — not exactly household names; but all three fine secret-weapon guitarists play here this week.
Rix totes a guitar onstage Tuesday at The Egg with the Wood Brothers: twins Chris (bass) and Oliver (guitar). But he’s as likely to tap and drum on it, percussion-style, as to pick or strum it. In July, Rix and the Wood Brothers more than held their own between the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Hot Tuna at SPAC. The trio made music of explosive, confident energy; ear-opening originality; and fun, bluesy earthiness. Then they hit the studio and made “One Drop of Truth,” due next week. An advance copy delights and uplifts like their live show and the live set on their last release, “Live at the Barn,” recorded onstage in the late, great Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock. The Wood Brothers show is sold out. No ticket? Get the album.
Sadler Vaden plays guitar Wednesday at the Palace (19 Clinton Ave. at North Pearl Street, Albany) with Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit (see story, page 6), the band the great Alabama songwriter Isbell formed after leaving the Drive-By Truckers and named for the psychiatric wing of a hometown hospital.
A Charleston native living in Nashville, Vaden played with hometown band Leslie, then Kevn Kinney’s Drivin’ N Cryin’ before joining The 400 Unit as its (Heartbreakers) Mike Campbell. A riff-master who colors the songs when not soloing, Vaden aims for the stars when he does. While recording and touring busily with Isbell, Vaden made his own self-named solo album. Look for Isbell’s new album “The Nashville Sound” (an ironic title for sure!) on 10-Best lists next year. Isbell sings his simple/strong, eloquent words in a mostly contained fashion in the careening or cozy playing of his 400 Unit, another Dave Cobb production masterpiece.
At The Egg in May 2015, I loved their “hard-edged, clear-eyed music about rusting, half-abandoned rural America, bypassed by the interstates, by progress and by recovery, where frayed finances fracture families into shards of drugs and violence. Collecting those shards into a mirror, he sang an image of desperation; and it was beautiful.”
Another cool guitarist plays on the Jason Isbell and 400 Unit show Wednesday, though James McMurtry’s playing is less honored (i.e., underrated) than his writing. Overwhelming with pen, mic and guitar at the Hangar in early 2016, McMurty sang old hits and newer tunes from 2015’s “Complicated Game” (his 12th), so he likely has fresh tunes ready. 8 p.m. $60, $45.50, $32.50. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.com
Southern-fried (Florida-born, Atlanta-based) bluesman Tinsley Ellis plays Friday at WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany). A master of taste a la B.B. King and of tone in the Clapton/Beck style, Ellis plays fewer notes than some, but they’re the right ones. He recorded his first album “Cool On It” (1986) with a band he called the Heartfixers and recently founded a side project, Tinsley Ellis Blues is Dead, to soul-fry Grateful Dead tunes. He tours generally with just bass and drums and sometimes a second guitarist; and just released “Winning Hand,” his 17th album. 8 p.m. $20. 518-465-5233 ext. 158.
Jazz piano prodigy Joey Alexander plays at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.) Saturday. The Indonesian-born teenager, like fellow young jazz giant bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding, made his area debut at Music Haven, a superstar in the making at 12, in 2015. Alexander taught himself to play piano at 6, released his first album “My Favorite Things” at 11; has awed contemporary masters, including Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, and earned Grammy nominations for both his debut and its follow-up, “Countdown.” He just released “Joey.Monk.Live” of a Jazz at Lincoln Center show. “Precocious” doesn’t even come close: Alexander powers tremendous technical facility with youthful energetic rhythms and harmonic sophistication beyond his years. 7:30 p.m. $44, $34. 518-272-0038 www.troymusichall.org
OLD SONGS SAMPLER
Old Songs showcases top regional troubadours and bands at its community arts center (37 S. Main St., Voorheesville) Saturday, a benefit for its festival June 22-24 at the Altamont Fairgrounds. This bargain-priced ($23 advance, $25 door, $5 children under 12) concerts features Alien Folklife, Bob Altschuler & Friends, Chuck Oakes, Ron Gordon’s Uke Troop and the Landfill Mountain Boys. 7:30 p.m. 518-765-2815 www.oldsongs.org
On Wednesday, funky Brooklyn R&B blasters Turkuaz brings big beats, songs of terrific centrifugal force and colorful duds to the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.). Dressed in bright monochromes, they’re nine pieces and voices strong: Dave Brandwein, guitar; Taylor Shell, bass; Craig Brodhead, guitar and keyboards; Michelangelo Carubba (tied for second-best name this week), drums; Chris Brouwers, trumpet and keyboards; Greg Sanderson and Josh Schwartz, saxophones; Sammi Garett and Shira Elias, vocals. 8 p.m. $21 advance, $23 door. 518-465-4663 www.thecohoesmusichall.org